Evolving Environment

Description

An evolving level is one that, through continuous play or a certain quest, changes dramatically throughout the game. While it may remain the same place physically, when a hero triggers an event to change it, NPCs will assume completely different roles or appearances, certain stores may open or close, new quests will become available, and even new sections of the area will be developed. Evolving levels are most frequently seen in nuclei or cities.

By causing the world around the hero to evolve as they progress through the game, it makes their choices significant, and gives added replay value to the game. For example, many cities in the Fable series are completely different based on whether the player makes good or evil choices. The more impact these choices have, the more important they feel, and the more emotionally invested the player may be in the game.

Variables and Affordances

  • Level: the physical space that is changing.
  • Change Conditions: what triggers changes in the level; anything from the killing of an NPC to the completion of a quest chain can trigger a change.
  • Changed Elements: specific elements, e.g. NPCs/buildings/environment/monsters, that change once the level enters a new state.

Examples

  • Fallout 3 (Megaton City). The player has the choice to save the city from the bomb. Doing so will open up a home that can be used as a personal base of operations, as well as cause NPCs in the town to frequently shower the player with gifts. On the other hand, choosing to set off the bomb may wipe the city from the face of the wasteland, completely shutting it off from further interaction. However, this choice unlocks interactions in Tenpenny Tower that were never previously possible.
  • Dragon Age:Origins, Lothering is destroyed and no longer accessible after the player progresses past it.

In Worked Examples

Quest-Level Relationship

  • Bridge Quest. Changes in an Evolving Level pattern may be triggered by a bridge quest, which transitions the current quest state of the world to a new quest state. Fallout 3's blowing up megaton quest described above is exemplary of this pattern. Once the quest is completed, the quest state of the world changes: anything in Megaton is now locked off, while a few other ones open up.
  • Moral Dilemma. Moral dilemmas may have evolving environments as their consequence.
  • Unlock Quest. An unlock quest may open up a new shop or area in a level.
  • Delayed Result. The evolution of the environment might not take place immediately.
patterns/evolving_level.txt ยท Last modified: 2011/06/20 23:14 by Gillian Smith
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